Exercising has always been so much more than a physical activity.
Feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins course through your brain, before a wave of adrenaline kicks in, giving you that extra shove you need to lift heavier or run faster. And if you’re interested in taking this high even higher, all you have to do is put on some music.
Which explains why the market is now saturated with wireless headphones and ear buds, but if you’re seeking one that’s specifically been designed to survive anything the gym throws at you, perhaps the expertise of a name like Adidas might be useful.
Adidas’ latest sports headphones might come as a surprise but then again, it was only a matter of time before the sportswear giant applied their knowledge for sweat-control and athletic performance to the audio department. I’ll go right ahead and admit that my skepticism led me to believe that this was going to be nothing more than a good-looking letdown but I am a sucker for surprises, and so began my very sweaty weeklong adventure with these “wireless wired” FWD-01 headphones.
I’ll have to start by mentioning the relief when I first laid eyes on this black and flecked grey product. Sports brands usually take it upon themselves to pick the most blindingly neon hues for product launches like these, so a monochromatic colour scheme on the FWD-01 is a welcomed departure for those looking to wear theirs both in and out of the gym.
In place of a regular plastic cord is a knitted one instead. It’s an aesthetic that’s borrowed from the brand’s famed line of running shoes, but also serves to prevent the dreaded cord tangle. The buds do seem bulky by wireless headphone standards today, but the fit is surprisingly comfortable, and can be switched out with interchangeable ear tips and wings provided.
When not in use, the Adidas FWD-01 headphones are rugged enough to be chucked into your gym bag, but there’s a handy pouch provided if you’re a bit more civilised. I personally found the magnetised connectors at the end of each bud to be particularly convenient; it not only sends the earphones to sleep for battery conservation, but also transforms the product into a necklace you can rock as part of your athleisure repertoire. Don’t pretend you don’t show up to work in Ultraboosts.
Adidas has, for decades, championed technology, innovation, form and function for not only athletes, but also the average person trying to stay fit, so they know exactly what motivates. The Adidas FWD-01 might be its first true foray into the audio industry but it sounds surprisingly good, thanks to its partnership with Stockholm-based Zound Industries, which also makes those hipster Marshall speakers.
Bluetooth connectivity only takes a spiffy two seconds and the sound quality was surprisingly clean and crisp, with enough bass and punch to push me through the rowing machine of death. If you’re one of those audiophiles, the Adidas Headphones app (available on both Apple and Android) will allow you to customise the FWD-01’s sound quality. It’s lightweight and had a much more secure fit than plenty others in the market, so I never really noticed the braided wire constantly flopping on my neck nor the buds moving as I jumped or ran.
Another big selling point is the battery life and charging time. Adidas promises up to 16 hours of playtime, which is unusually long for this genre of earphones. The USB-C charging takes only 15 minutes to go from zero to 60 percent, which is pretty impressive considering that’s another eight hours of music.
Since it’s designed for sports, the earphones are IPX4 rated for water resistance and are sweat- and splash-proof. The control panels on the right and left are easy enough to access, and comes with fool-proof button configurations.
If you’re seeking a pair of earphones that don’t compromise sound quality for functionality in the gym, the Adidas FWD-01 will bring you through the paces of your HIIT, Crossfit, or even yoga session quite comfortably. While the sound is solid don’t expect the high fidelity of wireless earphones by other higher-end audio brands; remember that these were designed to do more than play music — they also have to double up on durability, fit and usability.
They’re also easy maintenance and most importantly, do what Adidas promises them to do. If you’re an over-ear sort of person, the collection includes the RPT-01 (pictured above), an equally impressive wireless on-ear headphone that sees washable knitted ear cushions and a 40-hour playtime. Whichever you choose, you know your workout’s in good hands.
The Adidas FWD-01 is available at a retail price of S$249, and the RPT-01 at S$299.